ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says the cascading impacts of disasters in Pakistan have caused significant loss of life and reversed development gains. In order to respond to the impacts of the climate crisis, it points out, the country must understand, identify and attribute cascading effects to specific climate shocks and stressors.
This will help Pakistan develop ways to build adaptive capacity and resilience, according to the UNEP report titled “Adaptation Gap Report 2023: Under-financed, Underprepared — Inadequate Investment and Planning on climate adaptation leaves world exposed”, which was released ahead of the COP28 climate talks taking place in Dubai later this month.
The report, issued on Nov 3, includes a case study on ’Cascading impacts and floods: Building capacity in Pakistan“, which will be released shortly.
The impact of the climate crisis with increasing frequency, scale and magnitude means that the window to build back gets smaller and smaller with each climate disaster, the UNEP states.
UNEP suggests Pakistan must identify, relate cascading effects to specific climate shocks
It warns that progress on climate adaptation is slowing on all fronts when it should be accelerating to catch up with rising climate change impacts and risks. The adaptation finance needs of developing countries are 10 to 18 times as big as international public finance flows — over 50 per cent higher than the previous range estimate, the report mentions.
As a result of the growing adaptation finance needs and faltering flows, the current adaptation finance gap is now estimated to be $194-366 billion per year. At the same time, adaptation planning and implementation appear to be plateauing. This failure to adapt has massive implications for losses and damages, particularly for the most vulnerable, according to the report.
“In 2023, climate change yet again became more disruptive and deadly: temperature records toppled, while storms, floods, heatwaves and wildfires caused devastation,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
“These intensifying impacts tell us that the world must urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase adaptation efforts to protect vulnerable populations. Neither is happening,” she said.
Funds for adaptation
After a major update over previous years, the report found that the funds required for adaptation in developing countries are higher — estimated to be in a plausible central range of $215bn to $387bn a year this decade.
The modelled costs of adaptation in developing countries are estimated at $215 billion per year this decade and are projected to rise significantly by 2050. The adaptation finance needed to implement domestic adaptation priorities, based on extrapolation of costed Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans to all developing countries, is estimated at $387bn per year.
Despite these needs, public multilateral and bilateral adaptation finance flows to developing countries declined by 15pc to $21bn in 2021. This dip comes despite pledges made at COP26 in Glasgow to deliver around $40bn per year in adaptation finance support by 2025 and sets a worrying precedent.
The report pointed to a study indicating that the 55 most climate-vulnerable economies alone have experienced losses and damages of more than $500bn in the last two decades. These costs will rise steeply in the coming decades, particularly in the absence of forceful mitigation and adaptation.
Studies indicated that every billion invested in adaptation against coastal flooding leads to a $14bn reduction in economic damages. Similarly, $16 billion per year invested in agriculture would prevent around 78m people from starving or chronic hunger because of climate impacts.
The report identified seven ways to increasing financing, including through domestic expenditure and international and private sector finance.
Additional avenues include remittances, increasing and tailoring finance to Small and Medium Enterprises and a reform of the global financial architecture.
The new Loss and Damage fund will also need to move towards more innovative financing mechanisms to reach the necessary scale of investment.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2023